S&L August Book Club - Assassin's Apprentice Kick-Off & Your Feedback!


Uploaded by geekandsundry on Aug 3, 2012

Transcript:

TOM MERRITT: Coming up, we kick off a book with kings,
magic, assassins, and a kid who has no name.
VERONICA BELMONT: [SINGING]
I went through the desert with a kid with no name.
TOM MERRITT: [INAUDIBLE].
VERONICA BELMONT: Plus, is steampunk sword or laser?
We'll get to the bottom of it.
You do not want to miss this.
It's the Sword and Laser Book Club.
[SINGING]
I went through the desert--

Welcome to the Sword and Laser Book Club.
I'm Veronica Belmont.
TOM MERRITT: And I'm Tom Merritt.
This time we're kicking off Assassin's Apprentice, book
one in the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes.
This was a particularly scary pick for me because it's
really one of the books that kicked off my love of fantasy.
And I didn't want my jaded grown up self to change my
rosy pink memories of this book.
TOM MERRITT: Well, I for one was glad that you braved it
'cause I've been hearing you talk about Robin Hobb forever,
and I've been looking for a chance to
squeeze it into my schedule.
So I'm really excited.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes.
She's written a lot of great books, but this trilogy is the
one that really kicked it off for me.
So I'm very, very excited about it.
But we have lots of thoughts from our Good Reads forum to
get to including some video commentary and email.
So let's kick it off.
TOM MERRITT: So Robin Hobb is the pen name of novelist
Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden.
VERONICA BELMONT: That's a solid name.
TOM MERRITT: She's written exclusively as Megan Lindholm
from 1983 to 1992, but then began writing as
Robin Hobb in 1995.
From California, now lives in Tacoma, Washington.
Orson Scott Card loves her.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes.
No.
I know.
She is one of the like preeminent fantasy writers, I
think, in the genre, at least living.
And, I went to a book club signing with her years and
years ago, and I was absolutely terrified because
she's one of my idols.
And when you meet one of your idols, it's really scary.
I have like a picture that my boyfriend took like from the
back of the room with me like cowering over to her like a
little mouse.
Being like, will you please sign my book.
TOM MERRITT: Miss--
Robin--
Megan--
Hobb--
Lindholm!
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah, but she's great.
So Assassin's Apprentice, as you mentioned, is the first
book in the Farseer trilogy--
TOM MERRITT: And the first book published as Robin Hobb.
VERONICA BELMONT: Right.
TOM MERRITT: This is what kicked
off for Robin Hobb-ness.
VERONICA BELMONT: And I always talk about it as like it's the
first trilogy in a trilogy of trilogies.
TOM MERRITT: The Farseer trilogy--
VERONICA BELMONT: The Farseer trilogy is part of a wider
world trilogy of trilogies.
TOM MERRITT: Of a nineology?
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't know what nine books--
TOM MERRITT: Nuevology?
VERONICA BELMONT: --would be called.
Something like that.
But anyway, 'cause there's the Liveship Traders and there's
the Tawny Man trilogy.
I think Tawny Man is probably my next favorite.
And that deals with one of the characters in the book--
TOM MERRITT: And that's the middle three
books of the nine.
VERONICA BELMONT: I believe there is an order, and I'm not
sure that there is actually a required order.
TOM MERRITT: Is that right?
OK. 'Cause Tawny Man--
VERONICA BELMONT: The Farseer trilogy definitely first.
TOM MERRITT: Farseer came out first.
Tawny Man--
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes.
TOM MERRITT: --came out second.
But you're saying that--
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: --you don't necessarily have to read them
in that order?
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't think so.
In fact, I think I read them out of order the first time I
did read them, and it didn't really affect--
well, to my memory--
how I enjoyed books.
But they're absolutely phenomenal.
I think the characters are very, very rich.
The main character in this series is--
he goes through a few different names in the book.
He starts out as just Boy.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
That's one of the--
VERONICA BELMONT: He doesn't have a name.
It's just boy.
TOM MERRITT: --coolest parts.
And not to be very spoilery about it, but there's so many
mysteries set up right from the first scene.
VERONICA BELMONT: Right.
TOM MERRITT: One of the least of which but still very
interesting is, what's the kid's name?
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
This is not a spoiler episode so don't get freaked out.
TOM MERRITT: And it's kind of crazy how long
they go playing that--
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, they go--
TOM MERRITT: Thread out.
VERONICA BELMONT: --at least through like past half point--
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: --in the book before they actually give
him a real name.
But he commonly goes by Fitz, which I think is OK to say.
He gets that pretty quickly.
TOM MERRITT: That actually means "son of," right?
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't know.
Does it mean bastard?
TOM MERRITT: Isn't Fitzroy like progeny of a royal.
VERONICA BELMONT: Maybe.
You would know that.
You're an Anglophile.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
I have a vague recollection that that
might be true or something.
VERONICA BELMONT: But yeah, it's great.
Originally, it was--
I almost don't even want to give the working title of the
book because that's kind of a spoiler in itself.
TOM MERRITT: Only if you know it's a spoiler or if you've
said it's a spoiler--
VERONICA BELMONT: Did I just--
TOM MERRITT: --does the working title--
VERONICA BELMONT: --alude to the fact
that it is now a spoiler.
TOM MERRITT: Like when you tell someone it's a spoiler
then it becomes something they can work out.
VERONICA BELMONT: OK.
So it's called Chivalry's Bastard was the original one.
We know he's a bastard because it's--
he's a bastard.
TOM MERRITT: You find out that immediately, right?
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes.
Yeah.
TOM MERRITT: He's also--
I mean Assassin's Apprentice, the name, is a spoiler.
VERONICA BELMONT: He's also--
TOM MERRITT: 'Cause there's an assassin's
apprentice in the book.
VERONICA BELMONT: Spoiler alert.
He's an assassin eventually.
TOM MERRITT: Acutally, he's an apprentice--
VERONICA BELMONT: He's an apprentice.
TOM MERRITT: --of an assassin.
VERONICA BELMONT: He practices.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, right.
VERONICA BELMONT: He's a practicing assassin.
TOM MERRITT: But that's what's interesting is to me the book
isn't about knowing those things.
The book is how is this kid growing up--
VERONICA BELMONT: Right.
Where does he fit into this world.
TOM MERRITT: --in a very unique situation.
It's not your typical--
like, even when I read Scott Lynch and when we read Guy
Gavriel Kay, I felt like at the beginning that I was
following a very well-worn path in fantasy.
And I didn't feel that with Robin Hobb.
Even though when I kind of step back, I feel like, well,
the path is still there, but it's a much
wider version of it.
VERONICA BELMONT: Right.
TOM MERRITT: It's not the typical here's the rapscallion
who runs into his challenge and meets his friends.
VERONICA BELMONT: And he doesn't really have a defined
quest either.
TOM MERRITT: Right.
VERONICA BELMONT: I mean that's one of the big tropes
in fantasy and in a lot of other genre fiction.
You meet this main character, and they are given a quest
that they have to overcome great obstacles to achieve.
It's a lot more nebulous here.
It's a lot more uncertain what exactly his role is going to
be and where he fits in with the rest of this world.
And--
TOM MERRITT: But it's not wandering.
It's not like that's a bad thing that you
don't know his quest.
You're still interested in where he's gonna go and when
he's gonna get his quest if he gets one.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
And so there are definitely fantastical
elements about the story.
I mean, there are certain abilities that--
TOM MERRITT: Skills.
VERONICA BELMONT: --that the main character, that Fitz is
shown to have that are troubling and disturbing to
many of the other characters in the books.
There's other kinds of magic in this world that are
apparent pretty quickly once you start reading.
But it's not like an over the top wizards and--
They actually talk about certain magics.
Like levitation and invisibility.
They're like, well, that exists in our mythology but
I've never met anyone who can do that, like
joking around kind of.
TOM MERRITT: That's true of real life, right.
VERONICA BELMONT: Right.
TOM MERRITT: It exists in our mythology, too.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
But to them, that's even fantastical.
So it's more of an earth born kind of a magic system that I
think is pretty realistic with the story that's happening.
TOM MERRITT: And I like the fact that it all takes place
in a very animal friendly environment.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yes.
TOM MERRITT: If you like dogs, if you like animals and pets,
you're gonna particularly like this.
Is that one of the reasons you liked it as a kid?
VERONICA BELMONT: I think, because--
perhaps.
Looking back on my early fantasy reading, a lot of the
books did involve animals heavily, like the Tailchaser's
Song by Tad Williams, Watership Down, the Jane
Lindskold series, Through Wolf's Eyes, this series,
which is definitely very animal centric.
So I think that maybe is a common thread throughout the
books that got me interested in the genre.
'Cause I love animals.
I love them.
TOM MERRITT: It's not just like, oh, look at the cute,
fuzzy animals.
VERONICA BELMONT: No.
TOM MERRITT: I mean animals have--
VERONICA BELMONT: They're characters.
TOM MERRITT: --like a pretty important role in
this on their own.
VERONICA BELMONT: They have very
interesting points of view.
They have characters relationships with the
characters within the book that are very, very loving and
thoughtful.
TOM MERRITT: But they're also animal relationships, not, the
animals can talk.
VERONICA BELMONT: No.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
Well.
Yeah.
Yeah.
TOM MERRITT: Well, in other words, they
didn't walk into Narnia--
VERONICA BELMONT: No, they're not like, hey Joe--
TOM MERRITT: --and a badger walks up and says--
VERONICA BELMONT: --I'll take a beer.
TOM MERRITT: How ya doing?
Yeah, right.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
It's not like that.
TOM MERRITT: Exactly.
I will, though.
Thanks.
VERONICA BELMONT: I would actually like a beer.
Is there a dog back there?
No.
OK.
TOM MERRITT: We need to work on that.
This thing's never attended.
VERONICA BELMONT: But anyway--
I know.
We need a bartender.
TOM MERRITT: Lem.
VERONICA BELMONT: Lem.
TOM MERRITT: Work on that.
VERONICA BELMONT: No, I don't think he-- he's not good with
mixing drinks.
TOM MERRITT: Work on that.
VERONICA BELMONT: He's very clumsy with his hands.
TOM MERRITT: I just started Assassin's Apprentice.
I'm not too far into it, which is why you're looking at me
strangely when I say things about the book.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, I know.
We're not supposed to have read it yet.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: We're just kicking it off now.
So I've read it.
I read it again this past week.
It's a fast read for me.
I hope it will be enjoyable for you guys as well.
It's a great, fun book.
And yeah, I hope you enjoy it, too.
I think you will.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: You just started, though.
TOM MERRITT: A lot of people like this.
One thing I didn't realize is how widespread the love of
this particular book is 'cause I haven't run into it in my
small world as often.
But a Dutch symphonic metal band--
Within Temptation is the name of the band--
use the book as inspiration for their song Hand of Sorrow
from the album The Heart of Everything.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
Maybe we can give a little listen to it--
TOM MERRITT: Yeah, let's take a listen.
VERONICA BELMONT: --and check out the video.
They're pretty hardcore.
TOM MERRITT: It's kind of an Evanescence kind of hardcore.
VERONICA BELMONT: Maybe we can hear some of the lyrics.
I don't think the lyrics are very spoilery either.
TOM MERRITT: No?
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't think so.
TOM MERRITT: Within Temptation.
I wouldn't have looked at and thought this had to do
anything with Robin Hobb.
VERONICA BELMONT: No.
Well, that's what I love about--
Oh, guess we didn't get to talking parts.
That's OK.
Then we don't have to hear spoilers.
But anyway, it's a great song.
TOM MERRITT: You're spoiler safe now.
VERONICA BELMONT: If you want to hear the whole song, you
can go look up on YouTube for Within Temptation.
TOM MERRITT: Is it the kind of a book that has a continuing
fan community?
I mean, there's nine books in the series obviously.
VERONICA BELMONT: It think so.
I mean, I think it does have a very well-loved reputation in
the fantasy community.
And as you said, Orson Scott Card is a fan of Robin Hobb.
I think she's really one of those standout authors.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
Card said, quote, "arguably set the standard for the
modern serious fantasy novel."
VERONICA BELMONT: Bam.
Yeah.
And it's not all fairies and happiness
and blah, blah, blah.
TOM MERRITT: No.
I know.
VERONICA BELMONT: It has dark elements to it, too.
TOM MERRITT: Even early on, there's
some pretty dark stuff.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
So, beware.
Viewer beware.
TOM MERRITT: Beware.
VERONICA BELMONT: It's not scary, but there are some
upsetting things that happen.
TOM MERRITT: I know.
I was really upset by one particular thing, but you told
me to calm down.
VERONICA BELMONT: I didn't tell you to calm down.
TOM MERRITT: So I'm just gonna keep reading.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm just tellling you keep reading.
Keep reading.
You'll be all right.
TOM MERRITT: OK, folks.
On the last Friday of this month is when
we'll wrap up the book.
So hold on for that.
And get reading.
Before we go, though, let's see what else folks are saying
in email and on Good Reads.
VERONICA BELMONT: Tyler writes in and says, "Y'all probably
don't remember this moment at SDCC--" that's Comic-Con--
"but Tom, you and I had an hour long discussion about
Hyperion and classic literature and Veronica--"
TOM MERRITT: Is that right?
VERONICA BELMONT: "--we chatted for what seemed like
forever about Game of Thrones and cocktails.
Good times--"
TOM MERRITT: There we are with you.
VERONICA BELMONT: You know, I must have had a lot of
cocktails 'cause I really don't remember that.
TOM MERRITT: You look smaller somehow, as if the perspective
on you was not--
VERONICA BELMONT: My arm is really long--
TOM MERRITT: --fixed.
VERONICA BELMONT: --in that picture.
Weird.
But anyway, good to hear from you again--
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: --pal.
TOM MERRITT: We don't remember everything.
Photoshop.
Doc started a thread on our Good Reads forum asking
whether you think steampunk is sword or laser.
He says, in his opinion, "It is where
fantasy and sci-fi meet.
After all, it is a re-creation of the scientific fantasies of
Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, et cetera." Do you agree?
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, it's interesting.
I think a lot of the commenters on the forum thread
said that they thought of it as more of a
laser type of genre.
And I think it definitely has elements of many different
kinds of genre fiction.
It's got science fiction.
It's got fantastical elements, I would definitely say.
And it's got alt history, which is another one of my
favorite genres, if you can really call it a seperate
genre, which I would.
TOM MERRITT: Well, right.
Where would you put alt history?
That's not sword or laser.
VERONICA BELMONT: To me it depends.
TOM MERRITT: It all depends on the story, right?
VERONICA BELMONT: It depends on what alternate history--
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: --you're going for and what elements
you add into that history.
TOM MERRITT: When I think about steampunk as laser, I
think no 'cause--
well, I guess you could have a steampunk laser gun.
But you don't necessarily have to have lasers, and it's a
different kind of technology.
But then when I say, OK, I have to split it between sword
and laser, definitely more in the laser camp than sword
'cause it's about technology.
VERONICA BELMONT: Think about it this way.
It's not--
I may get some comments about this.
TOM MERRITT: Oh, boy.
VERONICA BELMONT: But the technology, I don't see it as
being like hard sci-fi the way that the technology--
TOM MERRITT: Definitely not.
VERONICA BELMONT: --actually has basis in scientific fact.
TOM MERRITT: Right.
VERONICA BELMONT: I'm sure I'm gonna get some--
TOM MERRITT: It's not hard sci-fi when
you think about futurism.
Put it that way.
VERONICA BELMONT: Right.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.

VERONICA BELMONT: So I think that is more fantastical to me
because it's almost magic like in the way
the technology works.
It's not rooted in actually technology.
TOM MERRITT: Well, but there is a root in actual technology
for a lot of it because they're saying you could have
done this in the steam era.
VERONICA BELMONT: You could have done this.
TOM MERRITT: That's where you're gonna get the people--
VERONICA BELMONT: I know.
TOM MERRITT: --arguing with you.
VERONICA BELMONT: I understand.
Don't get mad at me.
TOM MERRITT: It depends on the book. 'Cause there are
steampunk books that are very hard steampunk about like, no,
it's all things that could have actually happened.
And then there's other ones where, no, the balloon
couldn't have gone that high but whatever--
VERONICA BELMONT: I think you mean dirigible.
TOM MERRITT: No.
I mean zeppelin.
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't think--
TOM MERRITT: The zeppelin has the hard side.
VERONICA BELMONT: Dirigibles can also--
TOM MERRITT: When I said balloon, I was thinking hot
air balloon.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh.
Hot air balloon.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: Do they have a lot of those in steampunk?
TOM MERRITT: Sometimes.
VERONICA BELMONT: I think they have dirigibles.
TOM MERRITT: They also have dirigibles.
You're correct.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, if you think I'm right, email us
feedback at swordandlaser.com and let me know how right I am
about dirigibles.
Anyway, Jack started a thread mourning the decline of the
mass market paperback.
He writes, "Given that many kids don't have e-readers, it
seems like a lot of youngsters may get cut out of the
enjoyment of cheap reading.
Also, there is just something about browsing through shelves
of cheap books."
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
And he's talking about the fact that paperbacks haven't
gone from the shelves, but even at the airport, I noticed
that there are fewer and fewer paperbacks--
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
TOM MERRITT: --mass market paperbacks,
cheap ones on the shelves.
And e-books usually cost a little more.
And you have to have bought a device to be able to read them
in the first place.
VERONICA BELMONT: Right.
TOM MERRITT: So you might not have spent or had your parents
spend that money.
You can't just go to the bargain bin.
I remember going to the library when I was a kid and
just taking my mom's old romances and trading them in
for science fiction books in the exchange--
VERONICA BELMONT: Did she know--
TOM MERRITT: --thing--
VERONICA BELMONT: --you were doing that?
TOM MERRITT: Later she did, after the first time.
VERONICA BELMONT: So she appreciated that?
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: After the first time.
You're not very good at getting away
with things, are you?
TOM MERRITT: I let her know I was doing it.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, OK.
TOM MERRITT: I wasn't trying to get away.
VERONICA BELMONT: You're done with these.
TOM MERRITT: Well, it was stuff she was gonna give away.
So it's like, hey, I took one of your giveaway books.
And she's like, I guess that's fine.
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh.
All right.
Well.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
Not a very interesting story.
VERONICA BELMONT: That wasn't a very
interesting story at all.
TOM MERRITT: That was a great story.
VERONICA BELMONT: Good story, Tom.
TOM MERRITT: Thanks.
VERONICA BELMONT: Cool story, bro.
TOM MERRITT: Thanks for pushing me into telling that
awesome story.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
I can definitely see where he's coming from with that
statement, though.
And it is kind of a bummer because that is-- part of the
fun is picking up like an old, like a pulp book or like
something fun--
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: --light, easy reading.
TOM MERRITT: I don't think that stuff goes away entirely.
But I think devices will get cheaper.
Maybe that will help.
And e-books hopefully, get cheaper.
VERONICA BELMONT: I mean, Kindle now is like, what, $80?
That's like save some allowance money for a couple
months and you should be-- or a year.
I don't how--
TOM MERRITT: What kind of allowance are you getting?
VERONICA BELMONT: --what allowances these days.
I don't know what allowances go for these days.
TOM MERRITT: I got like a dollar a week.
VERONICA BELMONT: --inflation.
With inflation.
TOM MERRITT: Yeah.
They're probably more now.
VERONICA BELMONT: Tooth fairy and what not.
Silver dollar.
TOM MERRITT: Finally, we got a video book review from Tarese
who tells us all about The Rook by Daniel O'Malley.
TARESE: Hi, Tom and Veronica.
This is Tarese from the Good Reads group and forums.
And I just wanted to make a book recommendation of a novel
that I really enjoyed earlier this year.
It's called The Rook by author Daniel O'Malley.
And the book is about a covert British government
organization whose mandate is to protect the United Kingdom
from all supernatural threats.
So if you're a fan of shows like the X-Files, The 4,400,
Heroes, then you will definitely enjoy this book.
It has a fantastic mix of mystery, action, adventure,
and a good dose of dry British wit humor.
So again, the book is called The Rook by Daniel O'Malley.
And here's the cover on my Kindle Fire.
Thanks a lot, Tom and Veronica.
Love the show.
TOM MERRITT: Thanks, Tarese.
I like that he has the cover for us so we could see it
right there on the Fire.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
That was awesome.
Great review, too.
TOM MERRITT: It's like a thriller.
VERONICA BELMONT: I like it.
TOM MERRITT: A fantasy thriller.
I like it.
VERONICA BELMONT: It kind of reminds me a little bit about
the organization that England has in the
Gail Carriger series--
TOM MERRITT: Oh yeah.
VERONICA BELMONT: --which I just started
the fourth book on--
Heartless is the fourth book.
And they have an organization called BUR that monitors
supernatural activity and makes sure that the vampires
and werewolves are doing what they're supposed to be doing
and not bugging mortal people and kind of keeping their
business together.
TOM MERRITT: Right.
VERONICA BELMONT: But I think this sounds
a little more thrilling.
TOM MERRITT: And more of an adult like stepped up version
of the Ministry of Magic from--
VERONICA BELMONT: Oh, maybe.
TOM MERRITT: Harry Potter.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
Cool.
TOM MERRITT: A little bit of that, too.
VERONICA BELMONT: Yeah.
We'll have to check that one out.
TOM MERRITT: Cool.
VERONICA BELMONT: All right.
So that about does it for us today.
But don't forget the main Sword and Laser show where we
do interviews and news.
And in the latest episode, we talk with John Scalzi, author
of Redshirts--
which I just finished reading and was
phenomenal by the way--
and the Old Man's War, about his upcoming release The Human
Division, which takes place in that same universe.
It's awesome.
TOM MERRITT: That guy is so busy.
VERONICA BELMONT: He's doing a lot.
TOM MERRITT: He's like writing like crazy.
VERONICA BELMONT: I know.
TOM MERRITT: You don't want to miss that.
So subscribe to our YouTube channel.
It's the green button up there in the corner at
youtube.com/geekandsundry.
You can send us email to our email address is
[email protected].
And of course, join the fun, read along with us, share with
our friends at the Good Reads forum at goodreads.com.
VERONICA BELMONT: See you guys next time.
TOM MERRITT: Bye everybody.
VERONICA BELMONT: Bye.